The Expat Woman

Help! (A Four Letter Word): The True Power of Asking for Help

“Perhaps the shortest and most powerful prayer in human language is help.”  – Thomas Keating

Why is it so hard to ask for help sometimes?  It certainly doesn’t help that America is considered to be an individualistic-oriented country, and that the idea of “doing”, being productive, and achieving for oneself, is of high value in our society.   Self-sufficiency is what we all strive for.  As women, we are biologically wired to care for others’ needs, often before our own.  Inadvertently, we may very well end up compromising what we want and need for ourselves along the way.  Asking for help may feel as if we are being weak or exposing ourselves, and that can truly be a little scary.  We might even feel as if we are facing some terrible truth that we are not Superwoman, 100% of the time, as we like to think that we are!  It is actually quite courageous to be vulnerable enough to ask for help – no matter what the request is.

Often our world gets shaken up when we make a transition, particularly a transition to a new culture or new phase in our life.  A cultural adjustment can challenge your sense of place, and identity, and even create a feeling of a lack of control.  It can be easy to withdraw from others and experiences, when we are in the midst of a transition that is shaking our core and our sense of self.  This is when we most need to reach out and ask for help and support.   And, what if you have come to a new culture or country where you do not know many people to reach out to yet?  Finding community no matter where we are, allows us to create a sense of place, and a support system, that will ultimately serve us through the ups and downs of life.  There are people and supports for us wherever we go, and we all have the ability and inner resources to start anew wherever we are.

Asking for Help is necessary for our survival!

  • We are meant to be part of life’s cycle of giving and receiving.
  • We all truly want to help others.  It makes us feel good when we can support or help someone!
  • It reminds us we are all interconnected and do need one another.


How to ask for Help

Know who supports you and in what way.

Know who in your inner circle to reach out to, for what you need, and when you need it.  Perhaps your mother is the non-judgmental, compassionate listener when you just need to be heard, while a best friend gives you the tough love you seek when you need someone to challenge your thinking or if you are simply feeling stuck.

As you transition to a new culture, maintaining ties to your home country is imperative.  How will you stay connected?  We are fortunate to have choices in technology to be connected to loved ones around the globe.  Stay connected.   Build in structure and honor a schedule to Skype, instant message and/or phone friends and family abroad.  Too often busy schedules and lives get in the way of the consistent communication that feeds our soul.  Then, simultaneously stretch yourself to make new connections and find common bonds with new friends in your new community.

Know what kind of help you need.

Be clear about what you need.

Ask yourself:  What do I most need right now? Do I just need someone to listen to me?  Do I need access to information?  Do I need financial support – is there someone who can provide help with that?  Do I need to understand something that is new to me?  For example:  How do I begin my job search here in a new country?  Where can I find a women’s networking group?

Know in your heart that it is okay to ask for support or help.

You are only human.  We need each other in this crazy journey of life.  No one successful gets there by doing it all alone – no one.

Ask with grace and gratitude – not with justification.

Ask, even when we have nothing to give in return at that moment in time.

We can receive support even when we are depleted and are not able to give in return at the moment.  Sometimes we have simply too little to give, at a given time in our life.  So, it is then that we need to ‘fill our bucket’ with the love and strength of others for a short time, while we regain our grounding.  Have faith and trust that you will surely have the opportunity to share of yourself, at a time when someone else needs help, and you will be able to reciprocate, in gratitude.  Sometimes the best way to give in the moment is with a heartfelt and genuine Thank You.


Thank you to our contributing expert : 
Rebekah Kane (, spends her time between Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. She is a coach, educator, and intercultural trainer, with experience training, advising, and coaching professional adults along their career and life changing journeys. She empowers and supports women in career and life transitions, cultural adjustment and in pursuit of their personal and professional development goals and dreams. 


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Nyna is the Founder and CEO of The Expat Woman, a global platform focused on connecting, supporting and empowering women who have moved abroad or plan to relocate. She is also a LinkedIn coach, consultant, trainer and speaker. LinkedIn played a huge role in my professional journey abroad, helping me build a network of powerful expat women and allies.

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